This coming January, M. Night Shyamalan is releasing the new film called Glass, which features the characters from this classic film, Unbreakable, and the film from a couple of years ago, Split.
Split was a real return to form for Shyamalan, who spent several years making dud after dud. At one point, Shyamalan was being referred to as the “next Spielberg” after his massive hits, The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. However, after a few more marginally successful films, the wheels came off and Shyamalan’s films took a steady decline.
However, he had started to recover when the excellent Split was released and it caused a sensation, not only for the brilliant performance of James McAvoy, but also the surprising tie in tagged at the film’s conclusion. It turned out that Split took place in the same universe as Unbreakable as we see that film’s David Dunn (Bruce Willis) watching a news report about the happenings of Split.
In a world where cinematic universes are all the rage, M. Night Shyamalan had created one without any fanfare or promotion. The announcement of the release of Glass came soon after this.
Looking back on the first film in this universe, Unbreakable is so much better than I even remembered. I remember liking the film originally, but not being blown away by it, which should be considered shocking. I was a huge comic book fan and I loved Bruce Willis too (from Moonlighting, Die Hard and the Sixth Sense). Unbreakable should have been right down my alley.
I must say, after the rewatch tonight, I really dug it more than I remembered.
The development of Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) into the villainous Mr. Glass is amazing and was completely unnerving. I remember being shocked and not 100% sure what had happened the first time I saw the film and this time, you can see what he is doing as the film progresses. This would be one of the films that started the reputation of Shyamalan as a filmmaker whose films ended with a mysterious twist. That kind of shoehorned him into a path that he could not maintain during the down period.
Bruce Willis is excellent here and the chemistry between him and Sam Jackson is undeniable. How Willis’s character, David Dunn, slowly comes around to acceptance that he was more than just a normal man is smart, realistic and well done. It may be a slow burn, but I found it to be fascinating. The pain of his son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) over his father’s refusal to accept his destiny was difficult and the scene where Joseph takes his dad’s gun was as tense of a scene as you are going to find. You just were not sure of what was going to happen. I also loved the scene near the end where David showed his son the newspaper of the “Hero” and silently let hm know that Joseph was right all along. The single tear that Joseph wipes away is beautiful and speaks of the character perfectly.
Robin Wright as David Dunn’s wife Audrey was wonderful as well. I loved her as Buttercup in the Princess Bride but I did not know that it was her in Unbreakable until after the film was over and I saw the IMDb page. David and Audrey had lots of trouble between them but the sweet ending with David telling her that he had a bad dream, building on an earlier scene, was such an amazing restart to their relationship.
Unbreakable was a much better film than I remembered. I was completely engaged in the movie and the relationships of the characters within. The film plays like an origin story of a super hero, only to reveal that it is also the origin story of the super villain.
Can’t wait for Glass!